Putting On a Brave Face

I hope everyone had a wonderful easter weekend. I was also going to say long weekend… except I feel like with everyone staying home these days it was kind of redundant.

I will try to make this post something you can have a take away with. But ooooo child! Do I have a crazy story about my Thursday and Friday leading into my easter weekend.

I have this weird thing where my heart hurts, it can be fine and then it will be in explosive excruciating pain and I have no idea why. This sensation happened again earlier in March and I went to emergency, because my sister insisted that this was not normal. I have to agree, it has happened one too many times to be coincidence.

Anyways, I go. They do an EKG, the doctor comes in and looks at me and says I’m a healthy young woman and this is nothing to worry about. My EKG was fine and it’s only happened a handful of times, “so don’t worry about it.”

This was not exactly comforting and when I shared it with this same sister who insisted I go to emergency, she followed up with insisting I go to our family doctor (we have the same family doctor) because he is way more thorough and will take it seriously.

So I go, I meet my family doctor and he says he wants to do some bloodwork, a lovely sample of you know what (so I drank water), another EKG and a chest x-ray – just to be safe. I appreciated his thoroughness and with work and life I just managed to go to do these tests at our local hospital on this past Thursday. Well my friends, I got more than I anticipated.

I did my x-ray first and then followed it with all the other fun bits. I cried when they took my blood and nearly hyperventilated because I’m terrified of blood and needles (a winner I know) but I managed. By the time I got back to my car my phone rang and lo and behold it was my family doctor calling me. He wanted to reach me sooner than later because he recieved notice about my chest x-ray and it was a bit concerning. He asked if I’d be willing to go to emergency for the doctor there to check me out and go over the x-ray with me.

So I go, and I wait. Surprisingly, the wait was not that long compared to normal. The doctor talks with me, assesses me and I seem fine (I felt fine), yet my x-ray said otherwise. He wants to be sure so he asks me to go to the larger city emergency. He called ahead, gave me a package of notes and said they’d be expecting me.

I arrive and they put me right thru to a room (this never happens). A nurse comes in and asks questions followed by a doctor. He assess me, again, I seem fine (I feel fine) and he thinks this may just be a blip in the x-ray from a bad angle. He tells me he’s going to review my x-ray and then I should be good to go.

Next thing, I’m told I’m having an iv put in my arm and more bloodwork. Now. Now. Now. Needles for bloodwork are one thing and needles for an IV which is like a permanent needle attached to you is another matter. Additionally, I was by myself because only sick patrons are allowed in the hospital because of covid. So, I was predictably beside myself.

The nurse came in and I felt like I was going to pass out, I stuttered as I tried to talk to her as she tried to distract me and shockingly enough I didn’t cry aloud. I was vibrating at the end and I literally felt like death – I couldn’t look at my arm without tears welling up; and then because life was having a chuckle at my expense I was told I’m going for an x-ray. I go, I have to undress, with this IV in the inside of my elbow. Painful. YES!

Then I get back to my room and I’m told I’m going for another x-ray! Different position. Again, unrobing and more pain and awareness of the IV. And then the doctor comes in and talks to me. He says he can’t explain why, but all 3 x-rays are conclusive and show the same thing. So he’s sending me for a CT scan. So 2 hours later after drinking a medicated beverage I go for my scan.

I’m not sure who has endured a CT scan before, but the injection into the IV made me cry out, so much pain in such an instant. The scan finished and a surgeon was waiting in the results room, he comes to me as I’m getting up and walks and talks with me back to my ER room. He can’t find an explanation in my results, however wants more time to look and asks of I would be willing to be admitted to the hospital.

So my friends, I was admitted. My poor husband who was waiting in the car from 7 pm – 1 am was told to go home. We couldn’t see each other. They gave me medication from their pharmacy at 3 am and I was connected to a drip. I slept the best I could… I tried not to think of the IV but it was so prominent and painful.

Eventually, I was woken up at 7 am by 2 surgeons who wanted to check in on me. They assessed me, I was fine (apart from the IV – I felt fine) and then I was left alone to sleep. So I slept. I didn’t get to take my Latuda because I wasn’t allowed to eat, so that was the one medication I missed at 3 am when they dished them to me… and to be honest I probably needed it the most.

By 6 pm on Friday, I was assessed 1 more time. More bloodwork, another x-ray and then I was told I could go BUT to come back if anything intensified. Also, I was required to book a follow-up appointment.

I was so happy to leave and see my husband! And my dog!

Fear. As I talked with my family (parents and sisters) and my husband I joked around a lot, made light of the situation. But in all honesty, it was really, really, really hard on me.

To be alone as doctors are poking and prodding you, telling you there is something wrong BUT they don’t know how it happened. To be told you need to be monitored. And to be attached to your biggest fear for 24 hrs essentially. It messed with me.

I’m proud of myself for not hyperventilating or crying audibly BUT from start to finish in the hospital I was emotionally overwhelmed and distraught. I essentially cried silently to myself, trying to keep a brave face on.

When I got home, I showered and slept. My husband probably wondered why, because thats all I did at the hospital BUT I was so emotionally exhausted. I had put the brave face on, because I needed to BUT I was terrified the entire time.

At the end of the day, I’m okay. They are calling it spontaneous and so long as their is no pain where they told me I should be experiencing pain – I’m golden. It should all go away with time and I’ll be in mint condition.

I have a follow-up with my family doctor on Thursday, so I’m sure I’ll get to hear a bit more of an explanation and ask some questions.

Life is so unpredictable. It’s so fragile. You can be walking around feeling fine and lo and behold there is something cooking on the inside of you that you had no idea about. I’m grateful for my persistent sister who told me to take my health seriously. I went in for one thing and came out with something entirely different. Who knew?!

A tender mercy, if I wouldn’t have gone for a 2nd opinion this problem wouldn’t have been brought to life and wouldn’t be monitored like it is now. The goal is better, not worse.

Take your health seriously. Go for a 2nd opinion.

Also, recognize that you are braver than you know. And there is a time and place for it and if you don’t back down you can do overcome anything you put your mind to – even a crazy long painful IV aka needle in your elbow for 24 hrs.

Also, after going thru something traumatic give yourself some time to heal. Don’t put pressure on yourself to bounce back and be uppity up. I wasn’t okay for a few days. I felt broken, and that was all from the mental exhaustion of my hospital experience.

We are stronger than we know, be brave when bravery is required and be tender to yourself and your recovery when you are able to put the brave face down for a rest.

Wishing everyone a peaceful and healthy week.

– Steph